Lunchbox Lab

April 11, 2015

When the sun’s out, I want ice cream – or better yet, a milkshake. I’ve loved milkshakes since I was a kid, but adult milkshakes (AKA boozy shakes) are even better. There are several places in Seattle that will give you a quality boozy shake (Hot Cakes being my personal fave) but nothing beats the variety at Lunchbox Lab.  A chill restaurant to being with – they have excellent burgers and bomb tater tots – it only gets better with their grown-up shakes.

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Did I mention the variety? I got the banana cream milkshake with vanilla rum. This satisfied both my love of banana desserts and my love of milkshakes. Oh and my love of alcohol. I’ve also had a very satisfying Oreo milkshake with whiskey.  My friend got a Nutella milkshake with I-forget-what-tasty shot:

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She sucked hers down – I took longer to finish. I’m usually good with half a milkshake, but I couldn’t let the rest of mine go to waste!  Lunchbox Lab has an epic happy hour and pleasant outdoor seating with a fire pit. And they’re open late! Definitely on my “most beloved” Seattle restaurant list.

Yellow Leaf Cupcake

April 5, 2015

I’ve been eating Trophy Cupcake and Cupcake Royale for years, yet strangely I’d never made it to Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co in Belltown. In addition to cupcakes, this cute “micro-bakery” makes gourmet macarons and cookies in addition to pulling an excellent espresso. I loved the flavors of the macarons, the most exciting (to me) being the Samoa flavor – if you’re familiar with the Girl Scout cookie you’ll know what I mean.

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I got the last one! It was light as air, and while it obviously didn’t have the crunch and texture of a Samoa it did have the flavor! Next, I selected a couple cookies, which are giant-size and also come as cookie sandwiches with buttercream as the filling.

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The sugar cookie on the right, while pretty, didn’t impress me as much as the peanut butter cookie, which was rich without being overly sweet, and intensely peanutty (a good thing, in my book). One of the best peanut butter cookies I’ve had in this lifetime, although I admit I scraped off some of the frosting because it was so rich. Lastly, and most telling, the cupcakes.

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On the left is the peanut butter banana cupcake (which was somewhat disappointing in that it tasted like a vanilla cupcake with some peanuts in it) and on the right, the pancakes and bacon cupcake… yes please!!! Once again, I scraped off most of the frosting – I am NOT a buttercream person, but if you are you’ll love it. The cake portion itself was the best I’ve had – no kidding. It really did taste like pancakes, and there were chunks of crispy bacon in it!!! Love this. A definite must-try for Seattleites and visitors alike.

Biscuit Box

March 18, 2015

Food trucks can be hard to track down, so I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon Biscuit Box last week in South Lake Union at lunchtime (not to be confused with the Seattle Biscuit Company, which is another biscuit food truck… that’s my kind of traffic jam). The Biscuit Box has two sides, sweet and salty – literally, the menus are on opposite sides of the window:

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Well you can guess which side I went for (although the pork belly biscuit sandwich sounds like it deserves a return visit)! I chose the buttermilk biscuit with butter and strawberry freezer jam. I was surprised by the way they serve it – a buttered biscuit with a generous ladle of strawberry syrup-jam.

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Yes, you have to eat it with a fork. Yes, it tastes amazing. It ends up being almost like strawberry shortcake, except no cream, and it’s a biscuit instead of shortcake… ok, so it’s different, but the idea is the same: the jam soaks into the biscuit.  I will be back to try the savory options – thank you twitter for giving me the means to stalk this biscuity goodness.

Nollie’s

February 22, 2015

South Lake Union is booming, and Nollie’s Cafe is taking full advantage of the breakfast and lunch market (amidst the plentiful construction). I stopped in on a recent Monday for some breakfast and coffee (it’s good) but I left with much more, as you can see from the picture below.

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That’s a peanut butter pie on the left. The three cookies on the right are chocolate, peanut butter, and hibiscus. The bar is a pecan fudge concoction. The highlights were the cookies, especially the hibiscus (not sure what hibiscus is supposed to taste like, but this was a darn good sugar cookie regardless. Also on my take-home menu were the “mini cinnamon buns” (the word mini always makes me feel less guilty about eating cinnamon buns, even if there are four of them…

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Heated up, these were perfectly gooey and soft. And although it looks like a lot of icing, it wasn’t overly sweet. I recommend eating one (or 4) with an espresso in the cute little dining nook:

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Service was friendly and the place was popular without being super crowded. You can tell they make everything from scratch, and the dessert selection was excellent (I made the mistake of choosing my goods before noticing there was a whole ‘nother display case around the corner). Stop in and get your cookies!

3.14

February 12, 2015

You don’t have to love math to enjoy 3.14, a bakery in White Center, but it does help if you like pie. Which I do. It was a bit of a drive from Cap Hill, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the homey bakery. You’re not overwhelmed by the selection of baked goods, but there were plenty to choose from – and not just pie.

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The owner was friendly and patient, and it was nice to be the only hipster in sight.  I took my time and chose a couple cake balls, a blueberry muffin top, and a cherry mini-pie.

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The red velvet cake ball (bottom left) didn’t do it for me, but the chocolate peanut butter one was everything a cake ball should be – dense, moist, almost like a truffle. It had strong peanut flavors and the chocolate was rich. As for the muffin top (top of the picture), I had never seen such a thing! Who would just sell tops of muffins? After eating it, I see why it’s a thing. It’s like a mini cookie-cake for breakfast! It was fresh-tasting and not at all dry, even the next day. No bitter aftertaste either, just flour and blueberry goodness.

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The cherry pie was the winner. I don’t even love pie, especially cherry, but the owner recommended it. And I’m converted. I warmed it up two days later in the oven, and it tasted fresh, flaky, and buttery. The cherry filling wasn’t too sweet or too tart, and there was just the right ratio of filling to crust. This might be my new favorite pie. I just wish they were closer. 3.14, come to Cap Hill, or at least do some farmers markets!

Grand Central Bakery

February 4, 2015

I usually stay away from chains, even small regional ones like Grand Central Bakery (with locations in Portland and Seattle). But I’d heard good things about Grand Central, and I’d always admired their outdoor space in Eastlake. So I took advantage of the abnormally warm, sunny January weather last weekend and chowed down on some treats while soaking up the vitamin D.

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No, I didn’t eat all of them myself. But I probably could have… Pictured above, from the upper left clockwise: chocolate (gluten-free) cookie, peanut butter cookie, oatmeal raisin cookie, brioche cinnamon roll, donut muffin, “jammer,” and bread pudding muffin.  I was pleasantly surprised by all of the above, especially the peanut butter cookie, donut muffin, and jammer. The donut muffin was exactly what it sounds like and would be perfect with coffee. The jammer to me was the most interesting – it was like a scone with jam in the middle and is perfect for breakfast.

Empire Espresso

January 27, 2015

In need of a sweet treat and a strong espresso one dark winter day, I took myself down to Columbia City to check out Empire Espresso. I had heard about their waffle concoctions – all sorts of exciting topping combinations (lime and powdered sugar!), and their coffee (single-origin, made for hipsters). I also knew it would be a cozy and friendly place to get some work done, and I was lucky to come at a time when it wasn’t jam-packed.

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I got my espresso plus the nutella banana waffle. The coffee was intense and gave me the boost I needed to chip away at my never-ending supply of work. The waffle was large they sure didn’t hold back on the bananas:

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Which was fine, since ever since I visited Oaxaca (see my “on the road” page) I’ve been obsessed with banana-based desserts. And nutella always works for me! My only complaint was that the waffle, while perfectly fresh and not over or undercooked, was a bit on the heavy/salty side. It seemed like it was cornmeal based but I could be wrong. In any case, I would have preferred a lighter, fluffier, and sweeter waffle. Nevertheless, I enjoyed my overall experience here and I can see why this place is so popular!

Trove

December 20, 2014

Trove, a new “concept restaurant” on Cap Hill is unique and inventive, without being too gimmicky. It’s a four-part restaurant: noodle bar, beverage bar, BBQ restaurant, and ice cream parlor. I went to 3 out of 4 (skipping the noodles) and was pretty pleased but I’ll just focus on the dessert portion.

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Ok, so maybe it’s a little gimmicky. The ice cream section of the restaurant group is themed like an ice cream truck. You can get the parfaits from their walk-up window, or order it for dessert in the restaurant. It being winter, I did the latter. The menu offers two versions of each parfait: a classic take and a Korean fusion take (the restaurant overall is Korean-fusion). For example, you can get a “new school” Snickers parfait: black sesame cake, miso caramel, and candied peanuts. I went with the “old school” Snickers, pictured on the left:

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My friend got the root beer float parfait (new-school style). I ended up wishing I had tried the more innovative new-school version because mine was a little bland. I liked it, but I think Frozen Custard does it better. I’ll be back to try the new-school options when it warms up!

314PIE

November 21, 2014

Not to be confused with 3.14 Bakery in West Seattle (which I have yet to visit), 314PIE is a food truck that has started appearing at the Cap Hill farmers market and serves both sweet and savory mini-pies. The truck is owned and managed by two guys, and these boys can cook!

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I was tempted not only by the pies but cookies (almond chocolate chip) and the pie “fries” (strips of pie crust batter coated in cinnamon sugar). Naturally enough, I was also tempted by the pecan pie.

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The cookie was good, although I see why walnuts are popular while almonds are rare in chocolate chip cookies. Walnuts have the right crunch and texture; almonds are too crunchy. Speaking of nuts, the pecan pie was good as well, although the crust was a little mealy and almost tasted like it was made from whole wheat flour. I would have preferred a flakey, short, delicate crust. As would most people. The pie fries were fun and tasty, in addition to being inexpensive and a perfect snacking size.

 

 

 

The London Plane

October 23, 2014

The London Plane, a new hip mercantile/bar/bakery/breakfast spot in Pioneer Square, took me back to the days when I used to haunt places like Balducci’s and Dean and Deluca in New York.  It’s clearly upscale, but not pretentious or trying too hard. A bright, clean, and spacious interior holds a restaurant, deli, flower stand, and bakery. I went for the latter, having no need for Dahlias at this time.

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Behind the bakery counter were all kind of goodies. The prices weren’t cheap, but from what I could tell just by looking, they were fair. I liked the variety – there were tarts, croissants, cookies, bars, buns… I settled on some cookies and the cinnamon roll, which they heated up for me. I headed down the street to Umbria to eat it because it seems one of the only things The London Plane doesn’t provide is espresso.

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Any annoyance I felt at not getting my much needed macchiato was offset with my first bite of this beauty. I liked that it wasn’t giant sized, not to mention dry, undercooked, too sweet, or not sweet enough (all common problems). That is, I loved it. Loved the pecans, the texture of the dough, the amount of goo… well done. Next up, the cookies:

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The top ones are chocolate hazelnut, to the right are chocolate chips, and on the left are Mexican Wedding Cookies. All three types were delectable and my friends were happy with the crystals of salt sprinkled on top of the first two types (I found the salt topping a little much but loved the cookies nevertheless). My favorite was the Mexican Wedding Cookies, I usually enjoy these and they aren’t easy to find. These were light without feeling insubstantial, and with just the right amount of sugar. If I worked around Pioneer Square this place would be dangerous… but they need to get with the espresso program ASAP!


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